Ellyn Berman, Who Was Hit By a Truck on Broadway, Dies of Her Injuries

Ellyn Schiff Berman

Ellyn Schiff Berman, the 85-year-old woman hit by a Brinks truck while crossing the street on December 7, died on Monday, her son Paul wrote. Berman was walking in the crosswalk at 61st and Broadway around 4 p.m. when the truck hit her, witnesses told the Daily News. Deputy Inspector Timothy Malin of the 20th precinct tells us the crash remains under investigation, and no one has been charged. The final decision will be up to the district attorney’s office, he says.

Berman was a longtime Upper West Sider with a background in social work and mentoring students. Her full obituary is below.

Ellyn Schiff Berman died at 85 on December 16, 2019, 9 days after being struck by a truck while crossing the street on the upper west side of Manhattan. She was a graduate of Smith College and received her Doctorate of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work, where she also served for many years as a Professional Development Counselor with the School’s New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Scholarship Program, mentoring hundreds of graduate students.  A woman who made friends wherever she went, she believed in human connection, social justice, and helping others. She was passionate about arts and culture and the ever-expanding circles of friends she gathered around her at all times.  She considered herself supremely fortunate to have been married for sixty years to Benjamin, who died in May 2017, and she loved her relationships with her family: her children John, and his wife Robin Glassman, Jessica, and her husband Michael Fernandez, and Paul, and his wife Laura Dickinson; and her grandchildren Emma, Aaron, and Julien. Those of us who loved her will mourn her the remainder of our lives. Friends and relatives might do one kind or generous thing in her memory. Donations may be made to the New Sanctuary Coalition, the Parole Preparation Project, or to the Riverside Park Conservancy for a bench in her honor. In peace.

Berman is the second pedestrian killed after getting hit by a vehicle on the Upper West Side this year.

NEWS | 28 comments | permalink
    1. Steven says:

      Very sad to read this. We all have to be so careful when crossing the street & intersections, even when we have the walk signal. Every day I see people texting & looking at their phone while walking down the street (myself included) so we are all vulnerable to things like this. NOT saying that is what Ms. Berman was doing, just saying how easily we all get distracted while walking through this city with crazy drivers.

    2. Kevin F says:

      The dmv should revoke the driver’s license indefinitely until the investigation is completed. This driver needs to be removed from the streets. Assuming the driver is identified, they should be fired by Brinks as well.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        I appreciate your sentiments, but this is STILL America, so I think the process should be allowed to play out. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that?

      • J says:

        wow, why assume the driver is guilty and should be punished? what if the pedestrian caused the accident through their negligence? punishing an innocent person sounds inappropriate to me. Let the investigation proceed

        • Paul Berman says:

          For what it’s worth, in this case the pedestrian was in the crosswalk with the light. The accident report is unambiguous and a criminal investigation is ongoing.

        • Paul Berman says:

          For what it’s worth, in this case the pedestrian was in the crosswalk with the light. The accident report is unambiguous on this point, and a criminal investigation is ongoing.

          • Chris Israel says:

            Just think about allowing this charged driver to continue driving for Brinks being like allowing someone charged with a handgun offence to keep the gun until he is convicted. If the driver is found innocent then return his drivers licence, until then err on the side of common sense.

    3. Nelson says:

      Such sad news. RIP Ms Berman and condolences to her loved ones.

    4. Anne Livingston says:

      She sounds like she was really a lovely person. Very sorry for the loss. I will definitely do something kind in her honor. Peace to you, too.

    5. SheWritee says:

      I hate when people take the time to grandstand about some issue when a life is lost instead of just saying.. .

      Ms. Berman seemed like she was a wonderful person and we need more people like her. A heartbreaking loss and my thoughts are with her family and friends. A beautiful soul, needlessly lost.

    6. R A alberts says:

      So sad

      Between the trucks turning with poor visibility and the bicycles c darting jn abd out of the crosswalk with no re no regard with direction or the traffic lights, pedestrians are at high risk each and every time someone crosses the street (in the crosswalk and obeying the light)!
      Time to initiate a program to “save the pedestrian “

    7. Dana Lerner says:

      Cars do not hit people. The people driving the cars are the ones that are responsible.

      Please try to change your language bc you are perpetuating the idea that it is the victims fault.
      In most cases it is not.

      Cars are weapons.

    8. Gerri says:

      My condolences to the loved ones of this dear soul. I am a fellow graduate of the Hunter College School of Social Work. The responsibility rests squarely with the driver who committed this – as I see it – crime. My 80 year old cousin was also struck by a truck on Oct 3, 2018 at 16th St & 7th Ave. She died 3 weeks later. I can assure you she would not have been on her phone. To this day, there has been no justice.

    9. Irene Packer-Halsey says:

      May her beautiful life be long remembered and may she rest in eternal peace.

    10. I’m so so sorry for your loss – You were so lucky to have
      had such an amazing person in your life. Tragic Loss. So sad

    11. Steve M says:

      FWIW I’m concerned that nudging Vision Zero policy changes have led to unintended increased danger. Pedestrians approaching intersections at which all signals say to stop sometimes guess incorrectly which light will turn green and end up in the crosswalk at the wrong time.

      When a fast-moving car comes up to a just-changed green light and a pedestrian is erroneously in the street, there can be a disaster.

      All the new turn arrows further complicate the issue, and result in even more misunderstandings between pedestrians and drivers.

      I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but I have seen near-misses of this nature several times on the UWS since the light-timing was changed in the name of safety, and the turn-arrows were implemented in the name of efficiency.

      RIP Ms. Berman.

      • Ed says:

        Simple solution for pedestrians: always wait for the walk sign before you start to cross. That will eliminate trying to figure out what’s going on with traffic signals.

        • Lara says:

          Even though one has the walk sign, cars sometimes turn too quickly into your path. There are very busy intersections that need better signals,such as a wait sign for vehicles like W 96 and Columbus to let pedestrians cross safely.

        • Steve M. says:

          I couldn’t agree more, but the reality is that not everyone does wait, and so Vision Zero could be hurting more than it helps.

    12. AC says:

      My condolences to the family. May Ellyn find eternal happiness with Benjamin up in Heaven, as they watch over their kids and grandkids. Though I’m not a friend or relative, I will carry out a random act of kindness, or a generous act, in Ellyn’s memory.

      God Bless!

    13. Dinah Day says:

      This is just an awful tragedy!! but with so many trucks speeding, and cars, taxis, too, no matter how cautious pedestrians are, they remain moving targets!!

      I am an UWSider from W 69th st and am very conscious and cautious of the ways that bikes and cars and trucks speed along, regardless of who is walking on the streets!!

    14. Margaret R Ryan says:

      This is so sad.

    15. Chris Israel says:

      this is very sad

    16. Steven says:

      What a tragedy. So very heartbreaking.
      I know that W.60th St & Broadway (leading to island with Downtown #1 subway entrance) has non-existent painted crosswalks! They have NOT been properly re-painted by DOT. Completely faded away!
      Very dangerous.

      • Lara says:

        As an elderly person myself I am alarmed that busy intersections do not have wait signs for cars turning at the green light while the pedestrian is crossing with the walk sign. Thank goodness they have it at W 96 and Columbus.Drivers can be easily distracted in turning; it almost happened to me. I am now compulsive in checking to the side when I have the walk sign.

    17. Ann Dolinsky, M.D. says:

      Ellyn was a swimmer at my pool and we became friends there and in the ladies locker room before or after a swim. I had great respect for her as she was a kind, thoughtful and positive person who was an inspiration to all. Last spring upon her 85th Birthday she went on a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica to celebrate her birthday. She was swimming over the Thanksgiving weekend, when I saw her last and we both talked about the holiday which she hosted for her family. What a loss for them and for all who knew her. I am certain knowing her that she was crossing with the light and respecting the traffic rules, unfortunately our city has become rather unsafe for pedestrians. I am sure she would want her accidental death to lead to an increase in safety for others.

    18. KLB says:

      My thoughts and prayers to Ms. Berman’s family. A simple solution to this problem is to have a WALK ONLY for pedestrians crossing. It is confounding that a pedestrian and a turning vehicle both seems to have the light. Noticed this has been instituted down by the Lincoln Center/ABC/Columbus Avenue intersection. It felt so much safer with cars stopped rather than inching their way into the turn as one hurries to cross the road.